Records Challenge Set to Go

The roar of raceboat engines will again be heard on the Ohio River this weekend when the New Martinsville Quarter Mile Records Challenge hits the water.

“Things are really coming together,” Deanna McConaughey, treasurer of the committee organizing the event said. “Everything’s going great. The funding is all in place. It’s been amazing to see how this community has come together. We were on a limited budget, but businesses and organizations all stepped-up to sponsor entertainment. It’s been unreal.”

During the event, boats will skim along a quarter-mile of the river, against the clock, which is a distance that has never been done before. Previously races were 1 kilometer. The new distance will guarantee world records will be set by the first boats running in each of the three categories. There could be as many as 30 boats competing in a total of 25 classes.

According to organizers, there will be a flying start from behind the city fire department, and boats will be clocked when they pass a second scanner at the WesBanco property south of the Wetzel County Courthouse.

The event is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association. Powerboat Superleague will be in charge of the races. A Powerboat Superleague primary Rescue and Safety Unit and race-designed safety boat will be on duty during the event.

Sherron Winer, wife of Sam Winer of New Martinsville who owns and manages Powerboat Superleague, noted 22 drivers have pre-registered. Many are well-known, old and new including several former New Martinsville regatta drivers. Most drivers, scheduled to race in the event are champions, which makes this event appealing to them.

The planning began when Powerboat Superleague received a call from the APBA saying there was a new opportunity to set records.

“It seemed like a perfect fit,” Sherron Winer said. “The APBA had a record no one had run for, and New Martinsville had the venue. New Martinsville has a very rich history of power boat racing. We’re excited.

“We’ve had a real good response from a lot of people. There will be a lot to do. I can’t imagine anyone coming and being bored.”

According to McConaughey, the owner of the old New Martinsville Yacht Club, has agreed to open the facility again for the weekend to serve as a hospitality facility.

While the main attraction will be centered on the river, other family entertainment, food, racing memorabilia and children’s activities are planned throughout the city.

The timed races will start on the river Saturday morning as soon as river conditions permit, possibly as early as 7 a.m., and continue throughout the day. They will resume again Sunday around noon, again depending on river conditions and the length of time needed to run the Saturday schedule.

New Martinsville has not seen raceboat activity on the Ohio River since 2003, when the New Martinsville Regatta was discontinued. That event was started in 1938.

During its 65 year run, the regatta course saw 63 national and world records set. It has a reputation for its fast waters, as well as being one of the APBA’s historic venues.

The competition has qualified for the APBA’s Hall of Champions, meaning that boaters who win races or set records may qualify for induction.

Among the organizations and businesses setting up the challenge are members of the Wetzel County Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Martinsville Riverfront Development, Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce, the Wetzel County Commission, as well as the city government and local business owners and interested residents.

Winer concluded with, “The business community has been so supportive, so we’re ready to run on the river to set records this weekend.”

For more information, call Sherron Winer at 304-455-2049 or Deanna McConaughey at 304-455-2475.

Staff Writer Dan Dorsch contributed to this report.